We are proud to share that Ahtna shareholder Kiana Carlson has been appointed to serve as one of seventeen members of the Department of the Interior (DOI) Advisory Committee on Reconciliation in Place Names. DOI Secretary Haaland announced the advisory committee on Aug. 9, the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. Haaland, the nation’s first Native American Cabinet secretary, said a newly created federal advisory committee will review and recommend changes to derogatory federal land names, according to a U.S. Department of the Interior press release.
“Our nation’s lands and waters should be places to celebrate the outdoors and our shared cultural heritage – not to perpetuate the legacies of oppression,” said Secretary Haaland. “The Advisory Committee on Reconciliation in Place Names will accelerate an important process to reconcile derogatory place names. I look forward to listening and learning from this esteemed group.”
The Committee includes individuals who represent Tribes and Tribal organizations, Native Hawaiian organizations, the general public, as well as those who have expertise in fields including civil rights, history, geography and anthropology.
Kiana says it was surreal, but exciting, to receive the news of her appointment just days before beginning her second year in law school. “I was told on a Monday, and it made those Monday blues feelings go away.”
Kiana is attending the Mitchell Hamline School of Law and is scheduled to graduate in May 2025 with a focus on American Indian Law. “My plans after graduation are to stay, live, and work in Cantwell, working on preserving and protecting what we value the most, such as our language and hunting rights,” says Kiana.
Having Kiana on the Committee means Alaska will have a seat at the table and a strong voice for place names in Alaska. Kiana earned a Bachelor of Arts in History with a minor in Alaska Native Studies from the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) in May 2021. She has worked a lot on place names through her work studying the Ahtna language in school and talking with her grandpa and aunties. “I chose to study history because I have always loved history. Growing up I loved listening to stories about old time Cantwell that my grandpa, dad and uncles would share. Studying history not only lets me do something that I genuinely love, but it also helps me in my education and career goals.”
Committee members will meet for the first time in the coming months, and approximately two to four times per year, to identify geographic names and federal land unit names that are considered derogatory and solicit proposals on replacement names. Many of the Committee meetings will be open to the public, and shareholders are encouraged to attend. Details can be found on the Committee’s website at www.nps.gov/orgs/1892/advisory-committee-on-reconciliation-in-place-names.htm.
Kiana’s parents are Vernon and Susan Carlson, and her grandparents are Bud and Edna Carlson (paternal) and Donna and Bob Ericksen (maternal). She grew up in Cantwell, Alaska and is a member of the Taltsiine (Water) clan. Kiana enjoys spending time outside with her friends and family doing activities such as hunting, fishing, snowmachining, hiking and skijoring. “I also love hanging around inside reading books and watching movies!”, Kiana shared.